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Employment and industrial relations in the EU are shaped by legal norms based on EU law. They define, on the one hand, the rights and obligations of employers and their organizations and, on the other, those of employees and trade unions. These rights and obligations may be contained in a variety of EU legal measures- regulations, directives and decisions. Increasingly, EU legal norms are also shaped by agreements that the parties voluntarily enter into and by soft law mechanisms. Fundamental principles of EU law. Access to the judicial process is a general principle of EU law. The role of fundamental rights in the EU legal order is also important; for example, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has held equality between women and men to be a fundamental principle of EU law and has upheld the justiciability of the principle of equal pay, thereby enabling this fundamental right to be enforced before national courts. The issue of justiciability and enforcement of EU law for long remained an open question with regard to the much wider range of fundamental rights of labour contained within the Community Charter of the Fundamental Social Rights of Workers, as adopted by the European Parliament in 2007. With the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon on 1 December 2009 the justiciability of the EU Charter’s fundamental individual and collective rights is one option open to the ECJ in order to strengthen enforcement of EU norms in the field of employment and industrial relations. It is part of the constant evolution of doctrine by the ECJ faced with Euro-litigation strategies: the use of EU law in litigation in order to achieve objectives in the employment and industrial relations fields. Individual workers, their representatives or trade unions may rely on EU law to claim individual employment or collective labour rights before national labour courts or tribunals in a Member State. The doctrine of supremacy of EU law means that EU law prevails over national regulations governing employment and industrial relations in the Member States. All Member States are obliged to ensure that their national law on employment and industrial relations is consistent with EU law and there is state liability to compensate individuals who suffer as a consequence of certain violations of EU law by Member States; for example, failing to implement a directive on time. The application of EU labour law is promoted by the ECJ which insists that national labour laws must be consistent with EU laws on employment and industrial relations. The ECJ has developed a doctrine of the indirect effect of EU directives, which requires national courts, in cases involving rules of national law on employment and industrial relations, wherever possible, to interpret these consistently with EU law. ECJ rulings have established that EU laws may have a direct vertical or horizontal effect. In cases where the EU legal norm is clear and applicable, claims may be made to national courts and these are known as direct effect claims. Vertical direct effect applies in cases where there has been inadequate implementation of directives and where the EU legal norms that confer rights on individuals permit the pursuance of claims made against the Member State, public authorities or any other emanations of the state, for example, where public employers exist. Indeed, national authorities acting as public employers may not adopt measures that conflict with EU law. The enforcement of Union labour law on employment and industrial relations may be channeled through industrial relations mechanisms, judicial enforcement of EU law and judicial cooperation in the EU between national courts and the ECJ in Luxembourg. This has produced an EU judicial system, with the ECJ at its apex, handing down decisions on the interpretation of EU law which bind the courts of all the Member States. EU law on employment may be implemented and enforced through industrial relations mechanisms – principally...
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